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Perhaps organic farming is the future of agriculture, or maybe it's just a fashion trend. Farmers who have been using organics for a number of years will have a definite positive answer.
But for a clear scientific justification, much more statistical data on soils, crops, areas and composition of fertilizers is needed. But it is already clear that ecological farming makes it possible to get rid of the use of chemistry, to grow pure products, which has a positive effect on human health.
The article will focus on the City Estate of the Dervis family from the US state of California.
Unusual immediately noticeable - the estate is located near Los Angeles in the small town of Pasadena. It is not so easy to imagine a village idyll close to a modern metropolis.
The farm not only provides the family with safe food, but also allows them to earn on the surplus that is supplied to city restaurants.
Just imagine - more than four hundred varieties of vegetables, fruits, flowers of greenery are sown every year. If translated into useful mass, then this is almost three tons from four hundred parts.
Such productivity is not always possible with the use of modern fertilizers. In monetary terms, the profit is not very large, about $ 20,000. But in conditions of almost complete self-sufficiency, this is an excellent result.
The proceeds are spent on purchasing products that the family cannot produce: flour, sugar, cereals, salt, oil. Agree that it will not be possible to grow everything you need on a small allotment.
Difficult start of the journey
Having learned about such results, everyone asks the question, how were Dervises able to achieve such results? The answer, oddly enough, is simple - everyday, sometimes very exhausting work and patience. The head of the family made the first attempts in New Zealand, but circumstances forced him to return to the States.
The entire life of the senior members of the family was spent on the ground, surrounded by orange trees and spacious pastures. Throughout their lives, the Dervis family has been growing food for themselves.
From the very beginning, the head of the family worked on the plot according to the principles of ecological farming, had an apiary, and was engaged in gardening. The sons helped take care of the pets.
And again, circumstances force me to move, now finally, to Pasadena. That's when the main difficulties began. How to create an environmentally sustainable system within the city? Is it possible to combine the purity of food and the environment of a modern city?
Problems began to arise almost immediately. There were mistakes, failures, and annoying blunders. The neighbors thought the family was crazy. There was no question of any sales, to feed myself. Heavy earth, minimum rainfall, heat made growing vegetables an unrealistic task.
But the strength of the spirit turned out to be stronger than nature. In small steps, people moved forward, applied new methods of wastewater recovery, learned how to create composts.
Not everything old needs to be forgotten
It turned out that the ancient Greek method of processing is effective in our time. In the middle of the 2000s, Dervis began to use unglazed pots for watering. The past millennia have not influenced the success of the method. The plant, with a lack of water, reaches for the source with its roots. This biological feature has not been influenced by the past centuries. The technology resembles drip irrigation.
A clay container is buried in the center of the garden bed. The vessel is filled with water. Water does not protrude much on the walls. Plants feel moisture and are drawn by the roots to the vessel. Evenly buried containers allow water to be evenly distributed between individual plants.
Biological farming - household ergonomics
It will not be possible to create a self-sustaining farm without reducing energy costs and refusing to connect to power lines.
In their household, the family decided to rely on the energy of the Sun. The installation of twelve solar cells has significantly reduced energy costs. It couldn't have been otherwise in sunny California.
The next step was the re-equipment of vehicles. Waste oil from restaurants is processed into a biological analogue of diesel fuel.
An attempt to create a closed cycle solved the problem of waste. The farm uses mulching, makes high ridges, and recycles waste into compost. A few years later, the head of the family came to the conclusion that half measures could not be enough.
The farm has abandoned the use of microwaves, food processors and other similar equipment. Almost all types of work are performed manually.
The transition to a vegetarian diet allowed to solve the problem of obtaining meat food. A small number of livestock are bred for the sake of eggs and milk, which are sold to restaurants.
Neighbors and most experts considered subsistence farming as a regression, a rollback into the past. "Radical gourmet" is the most innocent characteristic of Dervis Sr. And a person only cares about the health of loved ones, refusing products with GMOs and grown with the use of chemistry.
For Jules, this way of life is the road to freedom: "Agriculture is the most dangerous profession, it allows you to become free."
The family does not seek self-isolation, does not close itself off from events in the city, state or country. The pioneers were able not only to successfully raise their farm, but also to attract many like-minded people. At the beginning of the 2000s, the Urban Homestead website, urbanhomestead.org, starts working, where the family shares their best practices, advises and consults.
Volunteers are immediately attracted, master classes, virtual excursions are held. Dervises try to promote their lifestyle by speaking on TV and radio.
Life sets its priorities and not everything is in human power. Not so long ago, Jules Dervis, who died at 69 from a pulmonary embolism, passed away. After him there was a unique experience, a profitable economy and an understanding that a lot depends on a person. The family did not give up and continued the work of their father. The project is not only not closed, but is also developing successfully. Children successfully continue the family business.
If you are interested in the Dervis experience and want to know the details, then visit the project website or Facebook page - facebook.com/urbanhomestead. You can find useful information, especially if you speak English, but even an automatic translator will help you understand the basics of the unique methodology of the American family.
We also offer you a video about the Dervis estate: